I’m a big fan of proactively offering value with little friction as a way to generate leads. The most common example of this is free white papers, webinars, and product demos/trials. There’s a newer class of this model that is even more compelling — one that is customized to the specific prospect, but completely self-service.
Here are a few examples:
I’m confident we’ll see more of these types of free, simple services in the future as a way to quickly provide value to prospects in an automated manner.
What else? What are some other examples? Do you think we’ll see more?
One of the major challenges with a web application is the allure of making it perfect. Who doesn’t want the perfect product? Perfect is the enemy of good. A good product gets out the door and is put in the hands of prospects. A perfect product doesn’t exist, and while it is being built, time, energy, and especially money is being consumed.
My recommendation is to get the product into the hands of prospects as quickly as possible. And when I say prospects, I’m thinking about random ones, not just warm intros. Warm intros are definitely worthwhile and should be used, but also make things too easy that an objective buyer might not provide.
I’ve seen too many startups never fully get a product out the door. Don’t join the crowd! Launch early and often.
A lightening round topic came up at today’s EO Accelerator monthly accountability group meeting about good business/entrepreneur books to read. I named a few off hand and realized I needed to have a better list available. Here’s a list of books that I own and recommend, representing about 50% of the business books that I own:
This is a pretty good list to start with. I recommend clicking through and reading about them on Amazon.com to learn more.
What else? What other books would you recommend?
I’m continuing to read the Richard Branson book Business Stripped Bare and am nearing the end. For me, I usually only read a few chapters (e.g. the first, last, and skim the middle) in a book before moving on to the next one (usually several books a month). Here are a few more pieces of information that caught my attention (text verbatim from the book):
- Virgin’s normal rate of return in business around 30 per cent [what's your target rate of return for your business?]
- This is the point at which entrepreneurial functions become separated from management functions…Suddenly, innovating is seen as something extra, something special, something separated from the activities the company normally engages in.
- Virgin’s management style is unique, designed to both empower employees and avoid a culture of fear.
- …there is a fundamental difference between an entrepreneur and a manager…Although I’m sure there are entrepreneurs who could make good managers, my advice would be: don’t try to do both…Entrepreneurs have the dynamism to get something started…Yet an entrepreneur is not necessarily good at the nuts and bolts of running a business.
Richard Branson ranks up there as one of the most influential entrepreneurs ever, and I enjoy reading his thoughts.
I just started reading The Oz Principle to learn new ideas about individual and organizational accountability. Right away, in the first chapter, the Oz Principle is described, and is acutely relevant to startups. The idea is that there are actions above the line and below the line, and all organizations need to focus on developing a corporate culture and management team that develop an environment of above the line actions. Start ups, moving so fast and so critical in having the right talent need to especially focus on above the line attributes. Here are those attributes:
Above the line:
- See it
- Own it
- Solve it
- Do it
Below the line:
- Wait and see
- Confusion / tell me what to do
- It’s not my job
- Ignore / deny
- Finger pointing
- Cover your tail
I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the book and learning more about the Oz Principle.
What else? What are some other above and below the line actions you’ve seen?
At a recent EO event the topic of trends in entrepreneurship came up. We spent a good bit of time discussing ideas and changes that were affecting entrepreneurship, in order to think bigger about where want EO to excel and provide the most value.
Here are some of the trends we identified that will play an important role with entrepreneurs:
- Social media
- Internet everywhere
What else? What are some other trends that will affect entrepreneurs over the next decade?
So, we’re starting to evaluate upgrading our in-house web testing and monitoring software to a commercial solution (we use several free and open source products now). Here’s what we’re interested in from a single provider:
- Pinging a variety of ports and servers from different locations in the world
- Browser emulation with pre-defined scripts and paths
- Checking of SSL certs, domain names, etc
- Web services (REST) testing
- Web services API for us to inferface with
- Priced under $1,000/mo
We’re looking for recommendations and best practices. What do you recommend?
We’ve all heard the saying that it is better to over communicate than under communicate. One of the things that’s been proven to me time and time again is that absent information, people make up ideas to fill the void. This isn’t a malicious act, rather it is human nature.
My recommendation for entrepreneurs is to pursue a multi-modal communication strategy including some of the following mechanisms:
- Daily stand-up scrums
- All-hands meetings
- Department briefings
- Email (keep it concise!)
- Phone including voicemails
Again, over communicating is better than a lack of communication. Remember to control the message and not let false information fill the gaps.
What else? What other strategies work well for communication?
Most of us have heard of Tony Robbins, likely the best known self-help guru of the past 30 years. I had heard of him but didn’t know much about his philosophies until a friend of mine said he’s a big fan of Tony’s work, so I decided to pick up his book Awaken the Giant Within. The book, published in 1991, has one of the best strategies for startups I’ve read, and it isn’t even geared towards them (written for people to help themselves).
Here’s what Tony writes about harnessing the power of decision, and indirectly, building a successful company:
- Remember the true power of making decisions.
- Realize that the hardest step in achieving anything is making a true commitment — a true decision.
- Make decisions often.
- Learn from your decisions.
- Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.
- Enjoy making decisions.
Sounds a bit like iterating/pivoting, doesn’t it?
What do you think? What else would you add about decision making?
Earlier today we were talking about ways to grow a SaaS business faster. SaaS, with almost all recurring revenue, is a great business model once the machine is humming. SaaS is so desirable because it provides consistent cash flow and makes it easy to budget during growth. Thinking about the ways to grow faster, at the most basic level, here’s what we came up with:
- Sign up customers faster
- Sign up customers at the same rate but at a higher revenue amount
- Up-sell existing customers
- Reduce customer churn
Now that we have the most basic ideas, it is time to work on different strategies for each category.
What else? What are some other ways to grow a SaaS business faster?